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Monday, August 3, 2020

Columns

Students pay for Congress’ games


Angry students and worried families keep their fingers crossed as the hot days of June quickly dwindle away, because if our beloved Congress doesn’t come to an agreement by July 1, interest rates on all subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.

This is obviously unacceptable, but thankfully, both parties understand this and realize that anything less than an extension would be completely insufficient. Unfortunately, simply understanding the problem has not been good enough.

The extension will likely be passed, but there’s nothing comforting about that. Student debt has almost reached 1 trillion dollars, and students are looking for certainty. As politicians bicker about how to pay for the extension, students hang on to the little amount of faith they have left in our Congress and its ability to get things done.

If Congress does fail to extend the 3.4 percent interest rate, students across the nation will take it as a slap in the face. Even those not affected financially will disapprove out of principle, as most already have. The student debt crisis is serious, our futures are vulnerable, and for the extension not to go through would be offensive.

Plans to pay for the extension have consistently been shot down from both sides, as proposal letters make their way back and forth. A Democratic proposal, in particular, to close a payroll loophole that allows wealthier individuals to dodge Medicare and Social Security taxes, seemed sensible enough, but was quickly met with Republican opposition. It’s a shame that plan didn’t go through.

Harry Reid’s newest proposal, however, appeared to reveal a glimmer of hope, claiming bipartisan support. But so far, the plan has not provided any progress.

While Republicans take their sweet time to respond to Reid’s proposal, the White House still fails to thoroughly comment on the issue. President Barack Obama continues to mention student loans in speeches across the country, but the administration seems to have failed to put an adequate amount of pressure on Congress to move things forward.

Despite the approaching deadline, neither side appears to be in any kind of rush to solve this problem and give students some needed relief. With an approval rating of 17 percent this month, you’d think Congress would be more eager to do their job as efficiently as possible. Then again, that is an improvement from February’s 10 percent. Maybe they’re busy celebrating.

We’re forced to anxiously wait while distracted parties play their little games for political points, but both teams are tied at zero. The American public is fed up. It doesn’t matter who happens to be holding the ball when time runs out; if the extension fails to pass, every person in Congress is going to look bad in the eyes of the public.

It’s time for serious talk to start. Proposals have been swapped, accusations have been made, and here we are, two weeks away from deadline. Procrastination is never good. They were supposed to have learned that in college.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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